Losing weight seems like a pretty easy concept when you think about it. You eat less, exercise more and the weight is supposed to come off. The fact is, I'll bet you already know how to lose weight. If you're like most of us, you've probably lost weight many, many times...so many times, you're an old pro at it. You may even have your 'go-to' diet or exercise program, powering up your old Weight Watcher's account or starting back to the gym whenever the weight starts to creep up.
Control Your Environments. Another simple strategy to help cut calories is to control your environment -- everything from stocking your kitchen with lots of healthy options to choosing the right restaurants. That means avoiding the temptation by staying away from all-you-can-eat restaurants. And when it comes to parties, "eat a healthy snack before so you won't be starving, and be selective when you fill your plate at the buffet," suggests Ward. Before going back for more food, wait at least 15 minutes and have a big glass of water.
SUPPORT: Meet with a weight loss support group or friends who are also trying to lose weight. Sharing with others will help you stay excited about your weight goals. Other people can give you good feedback on your progress. Talk to your caregiver monthly to be sure your diet is working. Tell him or her if your diet is too hard to follow or makes you too tired.
Big-box stores such as Costco or Sam’s Club are great money-savers, but frequenting them to buy groceries can be bad news for your fitness goals. That’s because a 2015 study in the journal Appetite found that the larger the bottle, bag, or box the food comes in, the larger we think the serving size should be. To come to that conclusion, researchers surveyed more than thirteen thousand people and found that when confronted with larger packages of cola, chips, chocolate, or lasagna, the shoppers tended to want to serve themselves larger portions.
Though you may think that strong willpower is a necessary trait to overcome down-time grazing, experts say that your success is more dependent on your food environment than anything else. “If you happen to get bored and there is nothing but healthy food available in your house, you likely won’t choose to eat it unless you’re actually hungry,” says Jennifer Neily, MS, RDN of Neily on Nutrition. Most people don’t have the urge to eat celery sticks; cookies, however, are a different story. Heather Mangieri, RDN agrees, adding, “You can’t eat what’s not there, so make sure when you open the pantry, you aren’t tempted with the sugary, salty, fatty foods that most people choose when eating ‘just to eat.’ Instead, stock your refrigerator with fresh vegetable slices and healthy whole foods that will be easier to pass on if you’re not really hungry.”
Listen up: Skipping meals will not make you lose weight faster. If a hectic day makes a sit-down meal impossible, stash an energy bar or a piece of fruit in your car or tote, keep snacks in your office desk drawer, and make a point of getting up to grab a nosh — anything that will keep you from going hungry! Going long periods of time without food does double-duty harm on our healthy eating efforts by both slowing down your metabolism, and priming you for another binge later in the day. (Think: You've skipped breakfast and lunch, so you're ready to takedown a whole turkey by dinner!) Make it your mission to eat three meals and two snacks every day, and don't wait longer than three to four hours without eating. Set a "snack alarm" on your phone if needed.
Ugh, I'm so fat!For many of us, that's what passes for a weight-loss pep talk. "There's this common misconception that being hard on yourself is the only way to achieve your goals," says Kristin Neff, Ph.D., associate professor of human development at the University of Texas at Austin and author of Self-Compassion.But treating yourself with kindness, research shows, is a better way to bolster your commitment to healthy behaviors. "Coach yourself through your ups and downs the way you'd coach a friend—with words of encouragement and support," says Neff. "For instance, if you overeat or gain a few pounds, tell yourself, 'Losing weight is hard for everyone—I'm not the only one struggling. I'm going to take it slowly and keep at it.'" Think of every day—even every meal—as an opportunity to start over.
Your workouts aren’t the only things you need to plan ahead to stay fit for life, you’ll also need to map out your meals. “People have a much better chance of having a slim waistline if they plan when they are going to eat and what they are going to eat,” says Mark Langowski, celebrity trainer and author of Eat This, Not That! For Abs. “Before I go to bed, I look at my schedule for the next day and plan out what I am going to eat and where I will eat it. If you let the day begin without planning, it will be 3 p.m. before you know it and you’ll wind up making an unhealthy decision.” Registered dietitian Christine M. Palumbo agrees, but takes a slightly different approach meal prep: “Identity three meals you can prepare with pantry staples and start cooking. Store the meals in your freezer so you always have something healthy on hand when hunger strikes. For example, my go-to meals include risotto with frozen shrimp and asparagus, vegetable barley and a red lentil soup. Your goal should be to replace the meals whenever your stash starts running low”.
As seasoned professionals, registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs) have an arsenal of info at the ready to use as starting points for clients, regardless of their individual weight journey. But when these approaches don't achieve the desired results, they can also help clients explore other avenues. We spoke with several nutrition pros to get the lowdown—what general advice works for most people, and which factors might be standing in the way of weight loss? Faced with these obstacles, how do dietitians tailor their advice to the individual?
Trying yet again to lose those last 10 pounds? We hear you. In fact, 50 percent of women say that within six months they gain back any weight they've managed to ditch. And more than a quarter have dieted so many times they've lost track of the number. Well, get ready to stop the endless yo-yoing: Science has finally come up with simple, groundbreaking solutions for lasting weight loss. We checked in with the top experts in the field and scoured the latest research to bring you the skinny on everything you need to reach your slim-down goals and stay there.
According to one study, cluttered kitchens can lead to over-snacking, especially if you’re feeling stressed. Researchers suggested that people might respond to a chaotic physical environment by lowering their self-control. Even if snacks aren’t on the counter, the sense of disorganization could lead you to consume more—particularly junky snacks—than you planned.
Before you begin the habit of refilling your water bottle several times a day, make sure yours isn’t laced with BPA. A Harvard study found that adults with the highest concentration of BPA in their urine had significantly larger waists and a 75 percent greater chance of being obese than those in the lowest quartile. No wonder why drinking out of plastic bottles is one of our 40 Bad Habits That Make You Fat! To avoid weight gain, make sure your bottle is BPA-free and be particularly wary of plastics that sport a #7 recycling symbol on them, which is an indicator that BPA may be present.
Obviously, it’s still possible to lose weight on any diet – just eat fewer calories than you burn, right? The problem with this simplistic advice is that it ignores the elephant in the room: Hunger. Most people don’t like to “just eat less”, i.e. being hungry forever. That’s dieting for masochists. Sooner or later, a normal person will give up and eat, hence the prevalence of “yo-yo dieting”.
In a 2014 study in the journal Public Health Nutrition, people were asked to report their food intake over the course of two days. Those who ate at a restaurant during that time took in an average of 200 calories per day more than those who prepared all their own meals, and those who ate in sit-down restaurants actually consumed slightly more calories than those who ordered from fast-food joints. When dining out, people also consumed more saturated fat, sugar, and sodium, so eating at home where you can prepare food in a healthier way is obviously the better choice.
In other words, sticking with an exercise regimen can trigger sticking with a healthier diet, but it's best if you don't think of it as a way of burning off calories for the sake of weight loss. So, cultivate an exercise practice you actually enjoy, stick with it, and know that it’s making you healthier, and let it inspire you to make the choices you consider healthy.
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Boredom isn’t just bad for your brain, it’s also bad for your waistline, especially if you’re trying to shed some pounds. According to a study in the Journal of Health Psychology, boredom actually strips you of your ability to make smart food choices; you become an “emotional eater,” What’s more, boredom turns you into the worst kind of emotional eater because you not only make the wrong food choices but also eat much more fattening foods than you normally would. To stave off boredom, try taking a walk or relaxing with a good book.
Healthy fats certainly play an important role in keeping your belly trim, but these satiating foods—and, more importantly, their less healthy counterparts—must be noshed on in moderation. For example, less-healthy foods like pizza are among the top sources of saturated fat in the U.S. diet. According to a study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, The National Weight Control Registry participants maintained the majority of their weight loss when they stuck to a low-fat diet. What’s more, increases in fat intake were linked to increased weight regain during the study’s 10-year follow-up period.
There’s more: According to a 2017 review that looked at and analyzed more than 70 studies of over one million people, 42 percent of adults reported having tried to lose weight some time in the previous 12 months. So, lots of people are trying to lose weight, and lots of people are gaining it back. But we also all know someone (or several someones) who have lost weight and kept it off. So, what gives?
We’ve now arrived at tip number 16. If you’re still having trouble losing weight, despite following the 15 pieces of advice listed above, it might be a good idea to bring out the heavy artillery: optimal ketosis. Many people stalling at weight plateaus while on a low-carb diet have found optimal ketosis helpful. It’s what can melt the fat off once again.
Sure, you certainly need to drink plenty of water to help expedite the process of ridding your body of excess sodium, you can (and should!) also consume high-water content foods. Reach for cucumbers, tomatoes, watermelon, asparagus, grapes, celery, artichokes, pineapple, and cranberries — all of which contain diuretic properties that will also help you stay full due to their higher fiber content.
For the cook who loves tasting as they go, licks, sips, and nibbles can add up fast, leaving you feeling as if you've already eaten a meal before it actually ends up on the table. To quell the tasting urge, some experts recommend sucking on a highly flavored hard candy while you cook. The potent taste—think mint, cinnamon, or sour—will keep your taste buds busy, and the act of sucking will keep your mouth occupied.
Not long ago, Traci Mann and her colleagues showed study subjects a sad movie, then allowed some of them to eat their favorite feel-better food—such as brownies, cookies and ice cream. Others were given a granola bar, while a third group ate nothing at all. When the researchers assessed their subjects' moods afterward, there was no difference among the three groups. In other words, brownies aren't the surefire pick-me-up we think they are. Mann's takeaway: "When you feel bad, you're far better off calling a friend or going for a walk—both of which are proven to lift mood." These options also have zero calories.
There are several ways of measuring your ideal body weight. One of the most popular methods to gauge whether or not you are overweight is the body mass index (BMI). The BMI uses a mathematical formula that measures both a person's height and weight in determining obesity. To calculate your BMI, multiply your weight by 703, and divide the answer by your height in inches. Divide this figure by your height again.
This one may be surprising, considering the popular concept of eating five or six mini-meals throughout the day. But according to scientists who study the hunger hormones leptin and gherlin, eating too often can mess with your body's natural signals. Plus, if you are constantly snacking, you might not realize how many calories you're really taking in and/or feel deprived from not having a "real meal."
Napping may be an easy way to catch up on some missed shut-eye, but dozing off in the middle of the day does nothing to aid weight loss. In fact, research has found that people burn fewer calories when they sleep during the day and log their waking hours after the sun’s gone down. To come to this finding, researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder studied 14 healthy adults for six days. For two days, study participants slept at night and stayed awake during the day, then they reversed their routines to mimic the schedules of night owls. When participants slept during the day, researchers found that they burned 52 to 59 fewer calories than they did while catching their Zzzs in the evening—likely because the schedule messed with their circadian rhythm, the body’s internal clock that plays a major role in metabolism function. If your circadian rhythm is out of whack, a separate study by University of Colorado Boulder researchers suggested spending a weekend in the wilderness to get it back on track.
"When I graduated college in 2012, I was at my highest weight ever. I was embarrassed about my weight and what I looked like, and I was terrified of being the person in the gym who didn't know what they were doing. I sat in my doctor's office and remember deciding that I was going to do whatever it took, however long it took, to change my life. I tried a variety of different diets that worked, but I felt like I was losing my mind not being able to eat certain foods, and I hated that even though I was 'losing weight', I still had a really disordered relationship with food. Food is supposed to bring joy and happiness.
We often make the wrong trade-offs. Many of us make the mistake of swapping fat for the empty calories of sugar and refined carbohydrates. Instead of eating whole-fat yoghurt, for example, we eat low- or no-fat versions that are packed with sugar to make up for the loss of taste. Or we swap our fatty breakfast bacon for a muffin or donut that causes rapid spikes in blood sugar.
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“You don’t have to eat salad all the time to lose weight. There are so many ways to tweak ingredients and make food you actually love to eat—even pancakes. (Try almond flour.) That being said, the type of food you eat also defines your lifestyle. You can eat junk food and lose weight, but you will probably be hungry all the time. So give yourself an occasional cheat day or reward for sticking to your plan. In the end, you want to lose weight in a healthy way, without feeling like you’re hurting yourself.”
Despite the media attention and all the information that’s available, people simply aren’t losing weight. But there are some very good reasons for this: too much misinformation is available, too many people rely on fad diets, too many people look for a pill to help them lose weight and too many people just don’t want to acknowledge that it takes some work to lose the weight. Yet for those who do work to lose weight, the end result is always worth it.
Speaking of sweets, if you’re going to choose something for dessert, it should probably be chocolate. A 2012 study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found those who regularly ate chocolate were thinner than those who ate it less often. Just make sure what you’re eating is the antioxidant-packed dark variety of 70-percent cocoa rating or higher.
Speaking of dressing, you could even take it one step further and buck the suggested choice entirely. While we bet Panera’s Greek salad pairs well with a dressing of the same name, a splash of olive oil and vinegar will also bring out the flavors of the dish and save you a few hundred calories along the way. For a healthy, belly-blasting dressing when you’re eating salad at home, try incorporating some apple cider vinegar or a squeeze of lemon.